In DepthCOVID-19

Latest Russian vaccine comes with a big dose of mystery

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Science  09 Apr 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6538, pp. 116-117
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6538.116

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Summary

Sputnik V isn't Russia's only homegrown COVID-19 vaccine. EpiVacCorona, first authorized in October 2020, has begun to emerge from the shadow of Sputnik V, bringing along controversy. Developed by VECTOR, the famed State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology that once studied bioweapons and now is one of two global repositories of the eradicated smallpox virus, the vaccine is key to the country's plans to combat the pandemic. Russia began to offer it to small numbers of people last year and aims for a bigger national campaign. But only in late March did VECTOR publish any clinical data on EpiVacCorona, which consists mainly of multiple protein bits, or peptides, from the pandemic coronavirus, and there's still no evidence that the vaccine actually protects people from COVID-19. Moreover, participants in early trials of the vaccine say they have tested themselves for the antibodies the vaccine is meant to produce and they find none.

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